This collection traces the Kirchheimer family from 1911 until 2011 and focuses on the personal lives of the family members and their ties to the cities of Wolfenbüttel, Bremerhaven, Bad Driburg, and surrounding towns. Materials include clippings, photographs, speeches, correspondence, education records, ephemera, poems, small notebooks, a diary, a high school yearbook, and few vital records.
Siegfried Kirchheimer (1891-1991) was the eldest of four sons of Moritz Kirchheimer and his wife Caroline. Siegfried studied medicine and served as a medical officer in the German army during World War I. He married Martha Müller, and the couple lived in Wolfenbüttel from 1918 until 1938. Siegfried became a highly-regarded doctor in Wolfenbüttel during this time and created strong ties to the city. In 1938, Siegfried and his eldest daughter Lore (alternatively Hannelore) immigrated to the United States. Martha Kirchheimer and their other daughters Grete and Alice followed two years later. Siegfried Kirchheimer remained in close contact with the city of Wolfenbüttel and residents he had treated there for the rest of his life, often writing letters to the city on special occasions that were published in the city’s newspaper the Wolfenbütteler Zeitung. In 1990, he was awarded the Wappenteller der Stadt Wolfenbüttel (plaque Wolfenbüttel city crest) for his service to the city. After his death, the city of Wolfenbüttel named a street Dr.-Kirchheimer-Straße in his honor. Siegfried was also an avid photographer and had an interest in sailing and ships. Many of his photographs of Bremerhaven were used for the anniversary book 150 Jahre Bremerhaven by Harry Gabckes.
Siegfried and Martha Kirchheimer’s first daughter Lore settled in New York and worked as a saleswoman. Their second daughter Grete (alternatively Greta) Kirchheimer was born in 1924 and married Gerd Leven, who had served in the U.S. Army during World War II and studied traffic management. Alice Kirchheimer was born on June 3, 1930. She began school in Bad Driburg and completed high school in 1949 at the High School of Commerce in New York City. She became a secretary at a law firm in Manhattan and revisited Wolfenbüttel several times later in her life with her sister Lore.
Siegfried’s brother Bert Kirchheimer (1897-1985) was born in Bremerhaven and studied business. After serving in the German army during World War I, he ran the department store E. Weil Söhne in Saarbrücken. During this time, he became a prolific caricaturist whose work was published in the Dortmunder Generalanzeiger and the Saarbrücker Zeitung. He immigrated to the United States in 1936, where he worked for Forbes.
Bert Kirchheimer’s son Manfred (alternatively Manny) Kirchheimer was born in Saarbrücken in 1931 and emigrated with his family in 1936. Manfred became a documentary filmmaker in New York City. His film We Were So Beloved focused on the experience of German-Jewish refugees who immigrated to the United States between 1933 and 1941 and settled in the Washington Heights community of New York City.